Today marked the 13th day of rescue efforts conducted to find survivors after a Miami condo collapsed almost two weeks ago, with firefighters and crews desperately searching through rubble. However, the search for the 117 unaccounted for residents may be put on pause as Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall in the next few days. Footage taken today by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue shows crews rummaging through rubble as high winds sway nearby palm trees and heavy rain begins to pour. It remains to be seen whether or not the rescue will be paused today, though severe thunderstorms cut it short yesterday.
While no resident has been found alive since the first hour after the collapse, Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor of Miami-Dade County, remains optimistic: “There is hope there are voids to continue the search-and-rescue operation,” she told reporters while insisting that it remained a “rescue” operation and not a “recovery” mission.
Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava – Michael Reaves/Getty Images
The bodies of four more victims were found Monday as heavy rain filled the rubble with water, though crews reached a milestone by successfully removing 4.8 million pounds of concrete by the end of the day. Half of the building, which remained standing after the collapse, was demolished Monday as well. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett spoke on the benefits of destroying the building: “The site is busier and more active now than I’ve seen it since we began, now that the damaged building is down.”
“Through the team’s ongoing efforts, we have recovered four additional victims. The number of confirmed deaths is now 32 with 26 of those identified. 191 people are accounted for and we have 113 reports of people who are potentially unaccounted for,” Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava said Tuesday.
Nevertheless, Elsa is set to only make conditions worse. 60 MPH wins battered the area this morning and residents have been warned that the storm could become much more volatile by the time the eye reaches Florida. The National Weather Service has warned of extreme storm surges and possible tornadoes. In order to work safely, Mayor Cava is mandating crews stop searching once winds reach 30 miles per hour.
Our hearts are with the victims and rescue crews.